What the US can learn from Estonia's cloud-based, blockchain-secured EHR system

Despite the continued efforts of the government, vendors and health systems to implement an easily accessible and completely digital medical record system, most U.S. patients still have to fill out repetitive, physical paperwork with each new healthcare provider they visit.

That said, the dream of a streamlined, interoperable EHR system is not an impossible one: Estonia's national system, for example, stores every citizen's medical data in the cloud, kept secure by blockchain technology and readily accessible for the individual and their care providers, The Atlantic reports.

During a recent talk at Aspen Ideas: Health, Eric Topol, MD, chair of innovative medicine at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif., noted that in the U.S., billions of dollars are wasted each year on unnecessary tests and scans ordered in the absence of an easily accessible EHR. If the U.S. was more like Estonia, however, "You wouldn't be filling out all these forms, because you could send your data [to the doctor]," Dr. Topol said, according to The Atlantic.

Since the late 1990s, the Estonian government has prioritized the digitization of its citizens' data, providing e-citizenship, tracking tax records in the cloud and introducing digital voting. In recent years, the "e-Estonia Project" has focused on healthcare, with each citizen receiving an electronic ID card containing their entire health record, including imaging data and clinicians' notes. Not only can patients and their physicians access the information, but it is also automatically provided to emergency personnel when an ambulance is dispatched.

More articles about EHRs:
UNC patients can now participate in telehealth visits through Epic
West Virginia hospital now live on Meditech EHR
More than a vendor: What hospitals should consider when forming new EHR partnerships

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